A national benchmark in
Educational excellence through integration of the arts
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A+ 20th Anniversary Conference: Celebrate Arts Integration

A+ 20th Anniversary Conference: Celebrate Arts Integration
A+ Fellow Michelle Pearson leads attendees in an energizing movement celebration.

A+ Fellow Michelle Pearson leads attendees in an energizing movement celebration.

DURHAM, NC, August 3-5, 2015 – The A+ Schools program of the North Carolina Arts Council celebrated 20 years of arts integrated teaching and learning during its recent conference in Durham.  The A+ Schools program is a network of schools that use arts integration to reach students and ensure student success.  

Officially launching in 1995 (though the seeds of its existence stretch back even further), the A+ Program started as a challenge from the Winston-Salem based Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts as an answer to the charge to “do something positive for the school children of North Carolina.”  Since then it has expanded to over fifty schools in North Carolina and six states.  The program has received international recognition for its effectiveness.  Participants from across the United States were in attendance at this, the second national A+ conference.

The A+ program has a reputation for success in transforming schools.  The program was the subject of an 18 month longitudinal study by Dr. George Noblit, funded by the Ford Foundation.  His research, published in 2002, proved the A+ Program to be highly effective in developing positive school culture, engaging students in their learning, and improving educational outcomes for all students.  The program has drawn the attention of educational luminaries and public figures such as British creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson, PBS NewsHour Education Reporter Dr. John Marrow (who also served as a keynote speaker at the conference), current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and former President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

ArtSpace has been a member of the A+ Schools network since 2012, but members of the ArtSpace staff have been associated with the program for many years.  Many ArtSpace faculty currently serve as teaching fellows in the A+ Program including,  Lori Cozzi (since 1999), Josh Batenhorst (2007), Steve Lipe (2011), and Claire Spence (2013).

ArtSpace was well-represented at the national conference.  A group of 8 teachers (Lyn VanOver, Mary LaBianca, Meg Boerner, Beth Lexa, Melanie Meador, along with Lipe, Cozzi and Batenhorst) were in attendance.  The group of ArtSpace teachers presented three workshops:  “Creating a Collaborative School Culture” by Cozzi, Batenhorst and LaBianca; “Visual Literacy” by Lipe and Cozzi, and “Sensational Song and Script Writing” by VanOver and Batenhorst.  

Participants engage in "Speed Dating," an activity that allows attendees to share their questions and expertise quickly.

Participants engage in “Speed Dating,” an activity that allows attendees to share their questions and expertise quickly.

Through its commitment to excellence in education through arts integration, ArtSpace works to achieve the vision of reform for public schools that was started by the A+ Program some 20+ years ago.  Dr. Marrow, in commenting on the program said, “At this point in the history of our public education system, I truly believe that you have the opportunity to take this idea and turn it into a national movement.”  In working toward the school’s “national benchmark” vision, ArtSpace is proud to be a leading voice in that effort.  

To learn more about the A+ Schools Progam of the NC Arts Council visit: http://www.aplus-schools.ncdcr.gov/.

 

ArtSpace Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school serving approximately 400 elementary and middle school students in the Asheville and Buncombe County areas of North Carolina.  The ArtSpace vision is to be “a national benchmark in educational excellence through integration of the arts.”